February 19, 1927 – June 17, 2018
Yuriko Yamamoto, 91, of Gardena passed away suddenly on June 17, 2018 at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Born on Feb. 19, 1927 in Los Angeles, she was the daughter of Takeo Tanino from Okayama-ken and Tamaki Tanino from Tokyo. Her four older brothers were born in Ogden, Utah. Two were sent to Japan.
Her father sold insurance and had an office in Little Tokyo. The business did well even during the Great Depression. Yuri attended Folsom Street and Malabar Grammar School. She took tap dancing classes at Dave’s Dance Studio downtown. The students, including future actress Miiko Taka, did recitals around the city, including the Ambassador Hotel. Her mother sewed all of her costumes.
She went to Berendo Junior High, where she was selected as captain of the volleyball team and excelled at dancing. The family lived in a two-story house on Harvard Boulevard that she believed was haunted.
Her mother fell ill and passed away in 1940, when Yuri was 13. She took the loss very hard. When her father took the ashes to Japan, he arranged for her to live with Tsunejiro and Machi Takahashi, caretakers of the old Union Church. Yuri attended Polytechnic High.
With the outbreak of WWII, her father was stuck in Japan. Executive Order 9066 was issued on her 15th birthday. She accompanied the Takahashis to Santa Anita, then to Heart Mountain. She remembered snowstorms and getting lost among the rows of identical barracks.
The Takahashis found work in Royal Oaks, Michigan and were allowed to leave camp. Yuri attended school there. Although she stood out, she made friends and didn’t recall any ill treatment. They returned to L.A. and she lived with the Takahashis until she was 21.
She met Jim Yamamoto and they married in 1950. They raised two daughters and a son. Her father returned from Japan with his second wife and stayed with the family. He did research for his book “Hadaka Sugata no Amerika” (Naked America). He returned to Yokohama, where he passed at age 84.
The family moved from L.A. to Gardena in 1964. They lived in an apartment before moving to their own home in 1969. Yuri worked at Dentistry for Children in Gardena with Dr. Osamu Chiono, Dr. Milton Brandolino and others. One of her co-workers, Chiyo Kato, became a good friend. Yuri and Jim traveled to such places as Mexico City, Bermuda and Nassau.
In 1978, Yuri visited Japan and was reunited with her brothers Hideo and Tomio. She also visited the grave of her father, mother and stepmother in Okayama-ken.
She overcame health challenges, including hepatitis and breast cancer. In 1993, Jim suffered a stroke. Yuri cared for him for 13 years. When he was transferred to South Bay Keiro, she and her daughters made sure he got the best possible care for 8 years until his passing in 2014.
Yuri took classes, including social dance and taiko, and was talented at crafts and sewing. She was a good cook and was known for her manju.
Densho recorded her oral history, which can be viewed at www.densho.org.
Predeceased by husband, James Tsutomu; parents, Takeo and Tamaki Tanino; brothers, Takeo (Kazuko) Tanino, Masao (Mabel) Tanino, Hideo Tanino of Japan and Tomio Takai of Japan; brother-in-law, Frank Yamamoto; sisters-in-law, Hisaye (Tony) Yamamoto DeSoto, Barbara Yamamoto; niece, Linda Yamamoto; friends Peggy and Tosh Fujimura, Teru and Bill Nagata; “fur babies,” Brandy, Buffy, Tooncee. Sister-in-law Fukiko Tanino of Japan and friends Wakako Yamauchi and Calvin Tajima survived her but have since passed.
Survived by daughters, Kathee (John Fleming) and Peggy; son, James K.; sisters-in-law, Fukumi Takai of Japan, Sonoko Yamamoto; nephews, Robert (Susan) Tanino, Tad (Laurie) Tanino, Masaatsu (Mitsue) Tanino of Japan, Paul (Denise) DeSoto, Rocky (Mariana) DeSoto, Gilbert (May) DeSoto; nieces, Terry (Ken) Yagura, Cheryl (Russell) Usui, Linda (Scott) Shimane, Carol Yamamoto, Kiyo (Michael) Knight, Yuki DeSoto; grand-nieces and grand-nephews; friends, including Marie Tajima.
She was much loved and will be sorely missed. Per her wishes, no services were held. Arrangements by the Neptune Society.